Inspected an Amerigo today and have some confusion and concerns - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-28-2018, 10:12 PM   #1
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Inspected an Amerigo today and have some confusion and concerns

I just checked out an Amerigo Camper today and have a few questions and concerns... bear with me for I am new to fiberglass campers!



There is no roof vent but there is two side vents, one for the stove and the other for the fridge. I don't feel the stove vent will be adequate for air circulation. Has anyone installed a roof vent in their fiberglass camper successfully? Something like the Maxxair or Fantastic fan? The fridge vent is essentially a vent cover and screen... that will definitely need to get sealed up/insulated somehow.



By peeking into the cabinets and under benches, I noticed that I can see bare fiberglass and that the insulation is fiberglass batting. Insulation seems to be quite patchy which is concerning being from NY. How do most of you insulate your campers? I read something here about not removing the inner wall layer from the insulation sandwiched in between or the structural integrity will be ruined. I am quite confused by this after seeing this camper and many images... By being able to see the insulation and bare fiberglass, does that mean this camper was stripped down too far? How can I check for that?


It's been raining all day which worked out perfectly for my inspection. I only found two minor wet spots in the back which seems to be leaking from the window and poorly sealed AC unit installed. Are windows easy to seal up? I will likely remove the AC and get some pexiglass in the back window.



The owner says he rebuilt all the window framing and that the floor did not need to be redone so he removed the linoleum and installed vinyl planking over it. I am a bit concerned about door framing since I've been reading about it and there was a slight give to the door when I tested it.



I am feeling very nervous about diving into this but at the price of $2300, it's hard to turn it down. My intention is to live out of it full time. Being 6', I just barely fit in the lower side. I will be going back to take a better look tomorrow morning and decide from there.
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Old 12-28-2018, 10:32 PM   #2
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A couple of thoughts - you say that there is no roof vent but there is an AC unit. This is normal since the AC unit replaces the vent, assuming it is roof mounted.

The ability to see the fiberglass may not indicate a structural compromise. What you probably have heard regarding structural problems is when people remove the cabinet structures that support the ceiling.

Our Campster has nothing inside the fiberglass at all. Zero insulation makes it a one-season trailer. That could be a significant problem for you full-time goal. Most trailers, even stickies, are not four-seasom.

Others will add their thoughts.
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Old 12-28-2018, 10:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Rootflux View Post
I just checked out an Amerigo Camper today and have a few questions and concerns... bear with me for I am new to fiberglass campers!
I read something here about not removing the inner wall layer from the insulation sandwiched in between or the structural integrity will be ruined. I am quite confused by this after seeing this camper and many images... .
It is not the insulation on the walls that is the structural intengrity issue. What you don't want to mess with is the ceiling, that is where the structural integrity issue lies.

OK so here is what that structural engineering is all about. It is called a SIP, which stands for structural insulated panel. There are three layers to it, the outside fiberglass skin, the ridged foam in the middle and the material that creates the ceiling, I am not talking about vinyl wallpaper, that is just a decorative surface applied later but under that vinyl there is most likely a thin plywood panel stuck to the foam which is stuck to the fiberglass shell all of them bound to each other with a continuous coating of adhesive. They were most likely bonded together before it is even taken out of the mold while it is in an upside down position. The mold would have supported it on in the perfect shape while the layers were being bonded.

If you pull down and separate that interior ceiling layer and the foam then the fiberglass layer of roof will sag because it no longer part of an integeral, engineered system. The fiberglass is somewhat self supporting but is too thin to truly hold the shape just right all on its own without its two partner layers. Those three layers must stay fully bonded to each other.

The vertical walls are different, they were not created as SIPs. So if you need to do some repair work on them you can do so without messing up an integrated system. The ceiling SIP is pretty much impossible to put back together due to fighting gravity and not being able to apply pressure to ensure a full bond across the whole of the surfaces. That roof needed to be created while the upper half of the shell was still upside down in the mold. Because it can't be repaired or recreated once the trailer is completed you don't want to mess with it unless the whole thing has for some reason come apart.

Not all molded fiberglass trailers have SIPs for roofs but the Amerigo and Sunraders do. I don't know which other brands might have them but for sure there is not a SIP roof system in the Casitas, Bolers, Scamps. It was related to supporting a lager, flatter roof. Curved roofs naturally have more resistance to sagging because of the shape so a SIP is not needed. On some trailers with fairly flat roofs they are supported by a wood frame structure and for those types a SIP was not needed as it has structural framing for the support. The SIP system was an alternative, lightweight way of making a roof stronger while at the same time adding insulation but not adding any substantial wood framing or beams.
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Old 12-29-2018, 09:24 AM   #4
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Is the AC mounted in a wall, not the ceiling?

There's a lot here. You're considering embarking on a long, frustrating, expensive journey, you just don't know it yet. It's a worthwhile journey, but I'd hate to see you start off without realizing what's ahead of you.

Rule #1: you can't trust what the owner is telling you.

Yes, people install powered fans. The amount of work depends: are really no roof vents in this camper, or is there a roof vent, currently occupied by AC. If there is a hole in the roof, but there's AC in it, then you've got a hole and wiring, so you're ahead of the game.

Fridge vent is, on every camper with a propane fridge, exactly what you're seeing. It's a major source of heat loss (that's the point). You can help by insulating around the fridge and reduce heat loss from the camper, but there's only so much you can do.

Stove vent? Or do you mean furnace? My stove doesn't vent at all. Well it does, but it vents right into the camper interior.

Hopefully someone who knows Amerigo trailers will have more info on the bare fiberglass and whether that's normal. It wouldn't surprise me if it were normal. These things don't tend to be very well insulated, if at all. Outfitting a (what year?) old trailer for full timing is going to take a lot of work. Unless you're very minimalist, most of the comforts we expect are going to require major modifications to the electrical system.

Leaking windows and or roof can mean mold and rotting around them.

None of this means you shouldn't go for it, but what I'm imagining (having been there, done that) is a (depending on your time and money availability) one year project, costing at least as much as the trailer is being advertised for. So unless you're looking for a project because this stuff is fun to you, my advice is to consider looking around at what sort of trailer you can buy for $4,600. I think that's at least what this one will cost you in the end. I could be way off, having not seen any photos, but it could easily be the case that it'll cost a couple thousand, to get it livable.

You're right, $2,300 is very, very cheap and very, very tempting. But thing is...at that price...

These trailers sell for a premium. Even old beat up ones. So the fact that it's so cheap is pretty scary. It may not be worth the effort. But not being there to see it, I have no way to say for sure. It could be you've found an honest person who looks at the work needed on this trailer and can't in good conscience ask more than a couple thousand, but that if they went with "market" price, they could ask double. There definitely is that chance. But we can't say from over here on the internet. It would take an in-person inspection by someone familiar with fiberglass campers and their issues.

It would help if you saw it in person, took a ton of photos, and came back and posted them before buying it. But that's up to you.
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Old 12-29-2018, 11:40 AM   #5
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If all is ok around the window opening, pulling the window and resealing with fresh butyl tape is a commonly done repair to seal them up. Avoid silicone caulk like the plague.
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Old 12-29-2018, 04:35 PM   #6
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I'll try to answer a few of your questions since I own an amerigo FG-16 & I had to completely restore the interior on it.

When I first bought mine I thought I could get by with just repairing a few of the obvious bad spots where window leaks had gone unchecked for too long. After opening up that proverbial can of worms it was painfully evident that water & plywood in a camper just don't like each other.

The stove/range hood vent likely won't move much air other than odors from
cooking so if you want an air mover the Fantastic fan can be a good option. Keep in mind the ceiling/roof is a double layered fiberglass w/about an inch of styrofoam insulation bonded in between the layers. If the ceiling & outer roof are in good condition leave it alone. The double layer is only on the ceiling, not on the walls.

The insulation in the rest of the interior is as you say kind of spotty, I found 2" fiberglass batting mainly around the windows/side walls, nothing below the benches or fridge. The wall below & behind the sink/stove did have some there.

Look hard at the plywood flooring as that is a big job to replace. See if he has any pics of it before he put the new flooring in. Trust your nose on this too, if there is a weird faint musty smell you likely have some rotten wood. The door frame is made from plywood too, again water is not plywood's friend here.

The price does sound low considering the current owner rebuilt window frames, resealed windows & installed new flooring. Be sure to check the appliances, if they haven't been replaced 45 year old stuff may not be that reliable.

If you haven't already looked check out the pics I've posted on my amerigo here: Cape Perpetua, S. of Newport OR there's plenty of shots of it stripped down to the bare bones on the interior that will give you a good idea of what's behind the walls.

Good luck with your search!
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Old 12-29-2018, 05:39 PM   #7
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Sounds too good to be true = its not.....

None of the 3 season FG trailers are made for NY winters. Lots of wood in Amerigos which is not a good thing. Steve's thread above is a great one, he did outstanding work.


Look at the floor, inside cabinets, benches, whatever. Use a flashlight, do some probing with an ice pick. That is the easiest place to see damage.

Project trailers are best suited for someone with the time/tools/aptitude/workspace to do the work themselves. Full time living will make that more challenging.

Your inspection skills are critical. A really solid, no leaks, everything works, Amerigo is probably $6,000 or more. So a buyer at $2300 should expect it to have shortcomings. It still could be a good deal.

Fiberglass batting insulation does not like water (leaks) and doesn't dry out well. Its a poor choice in an RV IMHO. On the other hand, most of the 3 season FG trailers have little to no insulation, just a thin layer of insulation on the shell, mainly to eliminate sweating.


Some peoples idea of resealing windows is getting a tube of cheap silicone caulk and laying it on thick around the windows. Fiberglass and silicone do not play well together. Doing windows RIGHT is a lot more work. I'd read up on window sealing and then ask the owner how he sealed them.

Despite my cautions, this could be a great deal. If so, it will go fast. I looked at three Trilliums on my recent vintage Trillium search. Two had very serious problems. Despite my passing on both of them, they both sold to others. I'm kind of waiting for someone to appear that bought one of those trailers. Its a caveat emptor kind of world out there!


I am assuming it has some type of window AC sticking out the side of the trailer. Either someone cut a hole in the trailer, or replaced a window with an AC. Expect some leaks in that area.
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Old 12-29-2018, 06:06 PM   #8
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Oh, a stove vent like a hood vent? I have one of those. Never used it. My thoughts are that if you're cooking hot enough to need the vent, you're splattering grease over your entire house. Bedroom, living room, kitchen. Grease splatter. In my camper, and for the most part at home, I don't cook that hot. That's a lifestyle change I've come to gradually. Everything is cooked low, slow and lightly (not cooked very much), except an occasional steak (shot an elk this year), which is just seared quickly on each side. But I never cook hot and splattery in the camper. Only in a house or outdoors.

Your life situation will be the biggest determinant in what you do moving forward. Economics, mobility and mechanical aptitude all play a huge, huge role in what you can do.

If you're on a very limited budget and don't have the desire or ability to do a bunch of maintenance and restoration, a fiberglass trailer may not be for you. There are way cheaper, way newer trailers outside the molded fiberglass market.

All this is just the "cautionary tale". I've been there myself, but I was working, had very low expenses and had the time and ability to do 99% of the work myself. I don't want to see someone retired and on a limited budget who just needs something cheap to live out of end up with an extremely expensive, time consuming, frustrating project.

But there's certainly nothing like personal experience to learn what you really want to do I probably wouldn't have let anyone talk me out of any of the "project" purchases I've made in the past. And my future self would definitely have been part of the chorus of people telling me not to do it...
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Old 12-29-2018, 06:42 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rootflux View Post
I just checked out an Amerigo Camper today and have a few questions and concerns... bear with me for I am new to fiberglass campers!



There is no roof vent but there is two side vents, one for the stove and the other for the fridge. I don't feel the stove vent will be adequate for air circulation. Has anyone installed a roof vent in their fiberglass camper successfully? Something like the Maxxair or Fantastic fan? The fridge vent is essentially a vent cover and screen... that will definitely need to get sealed up/insulated somehow.




By peeking into the cabinets and under benches, I noticed that I can see bare fiberglass and that the insulation is fiberglass batting. Insulation seems to be quite patchy which is concerning being from NY. How do most of you insulate your campers? I read something here about not removing the inner wall layer from the insulation sandwiched in between or the structural integrity will be ruined. I am quite confused by this after seeing this camper and many images... By being able to see the insulation and bare fiberglass, does that mean this camper was stripped down too far? How can I check for that?


It's been raining all day which worked out perfectly for my inspection. I only found two minor wet spots in the back which seems to be leaking from the window and poorly sealed AC unit installed. Are windows easy to seal up? I will likely remove the AC and get some pexiglass in the back window.



The owner says he rebuilt all the window framing and that the floor did not need to be redone so he removed the linoleum and installed vinyl planking over it. I am a bit concerned about door framing since I've been reading about it and there was a slight give to the door when I tested it.



I am feeling very nervous about diving into this but at the price of $2300, it's hard to turn it down. My intention is to live out of it full time. Being 6', I just barely fit in the lower side. I will be going back to take a better look tomorrow morning and decide from there.
You cannot seal the fridge vents! They are there for venting fumes. If you seal them the carbon monoxide will come inside when the fridge is on propane. It will not run correctly either. The venting is for the cooling of the coils also. Do not cut another hole in the roof for a vent. You can replace the A/C with a vent but do not put both on top. The structure will not hold the weight. If the A/C is on the back in a window then you may not be able to put in a top vent. The stove vent could be taken out if it is for the stove hood. You'd need to remove the hood or disable the fan in it. If it is the furnace then you cannot seal or remove it. Check out to see for sure what it is for. Windows may be a simple fix or a complete nightmare. The windows will have to be removed to seal them. The rubber seal may be dry and bad. You cannot caulk the windows enough to seal them. Been there done that. If the owner rebuilt the window framing he may have not done it correctly since it is leaking. Take someone with you that knows about this stuff before you buy a fixer upper. Check out the appliances, axle, etc. The axle may not be any good since it is old. Buyer beware in this case. Also does he have a title to prove it is his camper? Is he selling a stolen trailer? If it's a dealer these questions won't apply most likely.
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Old 12-30-2018, 01:09 PM   #10
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Dear Kaat, rootflux: WOW. No, an Amerigo isn't the best choice for living in full time. The insulation sounds about "right" and it's pathetic. We use the "dead air space" between the inner panelling and outer fiberglass, but there are so many gaps and leaks in terms of temp that it's close to useless. Unless you can somehow put in triple-pane windows, the relatively YUUUGE window areas will keep the whole thing cooler than in trailers with smaller glass/plexi areas.

It sounds lie someone already took out a ceiling vent, which are usually in the front niche that serves as a closet with a rod, a porta-potty area, or a sealed-in toilet area. The toilets were aftermarket (why?) and are the chief, most rot-likely place in the trailer. You have "vinyl planks" or pergo on the floor, which gives a little? It can hide the biggest mess you've ever seen, and you can't see it from underneath because the bottom is a "tub" bottom, complete fiberglass hull. You'd have to pull up some of the planks, mostly by the once toilet area in that front niche (we call it the putin) to see how bad it is. It can be BAD.

We spent 7 days a week, 8-12 hours a day, for nine months replacing the floor, inner wall panels, etc. in our 1973 Amerigo FG-16. Don't get me wrong. I really like our "Peanut" and at this point it suits us great. We kept it very simple: a small microwave, three electric outlets (110) and a 12V/110-120 portable cooler we move from car to trailer. We use a plug-in ceramic heater. I love the "two bedroom unit" layout we stayed with. We put in permanent seats by the back "twin" bed, which is permanent. We use a folding table.


BUT it was a giant job, all starting with realizing that the vinyl plank floor hid a HUGE mess.


Paul and I have been redoing old houses all our adult lives, and grew up watching our dads fix such things, so other than learning how to fiberglass, it wasn't beyond us. We kept it simple, as I said. We don't do propane and didn't. We already had a Fan-tastic Vent fan in the ceiling, but it didn't work. Paul spent some time on the phone with customer service, who tracked down the issue and sent us new parts, free.


ARE YOU PREPARED for a lot of work? We weren't--at first, but we also were from our experience of our whole lives. Paul had a well-equipped workshop at home, a huge tarp he used to cover it over the 2015-2016 winter to work in it, and a whole machine shop uptown Seattle where he used to work to help with with everything from redoing the frame (it was really bade) to giving him scraps and materials and even truck wiring (braided copper for flex during travel).


Not saying it's not in good shape. But it's a lot harder to tell with that vinyl plank foor in there!


A few pics of the worst of it. The round hole showing the ground beneath iw where the toilet wasn't sealed right (they never are) and rotted the floor right through. The other one is where the original batter box was under the back bed/bench, and the battery acid ate right through.


NO MATTER WHAT ELSE YOU DO, AS K. CORBIN SAID, DON'T TOUCH THAT CEILING!

Fear of Fiberglassing and Brown 73 Amerigo threads have some pics. Look around on FGRV for Amerigo, 1973, brown, etc.
Attached Thumbnails
1A 8 Pergo covered an original source of rot, old toilet hole.jpg   1A 9 More floor rot; water tank had cracked long ago.jpg  

1A 7 Batter box area under the concealing material PO added.jpg   1A 10 By the fresh water inlet.jpg  

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Old 12-30-2018, 01:16 PM   #11
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I want to be clear about this. The trailer you are looking at may be fine.

I LOVE our Peanut, and this is probably the last trailer we'll ever own. It is perfect for us. I love the layout and simplicity of it.


It cost us over $3000 for repairs, and that did not include a new stove (Oh, and the stove furnace is infamous for being a carbon monoxide problem 40 years ago ours had been disabled inside the range by cutting a wire when we got it). And that was with all the help Paul got from his connection of 30 years in the machinist trade in Seattle, plus his own automotive training and experience. A friend came and took Peanut off the frame and then put it back on in our driveway.


I hope yours is 10000x better! But get the buyer's checklist from FGRV and use it. Use it well.
Attached Thumbnails
Peanut 10 2015 to 6 2016 020.jpg   Peanut 10 2015 to 6 2016 043.jpg  

Peanut 10 2015 to 6 2016 067.jpg   Peanut 10 2015 to 6 2016 079.jpg  

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Old 12-30-2018, 01:21 PM   #12
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Then, when you've turned the corner, and make it "your own," you'll know what everything is in there, what it all does, why it's there, and you'll be able to replace it, repair it, whatever you like.


Paul did all the physical work; I did all the research and sourcing...Steve V, MrClaus, and others here on FGRV were of huge help to us! FGRV made it possible. But so did an astounding amount of work. Redoing a 7 x 12 bedroom would have taken far less.

Here's the good side of it all:
Attached Thumbnails
Peanut 8 2016 A.jpg   Peanut 8 2016 B.jpg  

Peanut 10 2015 to 6 2016 055.JPG   Peanut 8 2016 D.jpg  

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Old 12-30-2018, 01:22 PM   #13
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And then you get to go shopping for those things that make camping more comfortable:
Attached Thumbnails
folding table from Peanut, almond-lifetime-folding-tables-.jpg   summit chair.jpg  

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Old 01-01-2019, 08:57 AM   #14
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Thrifty Bill--where did your post go? It was a good one! I got an e-mail that you had replied, but now I cannot find it!

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